Walk­ing a fine line a few inches off the ground

Monika tries the city’s hottest new work­out, slack­lin­ing

Richmond Hill Post - - Life - MONIKA SCH­NARRE Monika Sch­narre is a model, ac­tress, entreprene­ur and tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity. She has ap­peared in over 50 tele­vi­sion shows and films and on over 100 magazine cov­ers.

If you’ve ever hung around col­lege quads, climb­ing crags or even pub­lic parks, you’ve prob­a­bly seen some­one with flail­ing arms walk­ing bare­foot across a oneinch-wide line of taut ny­lon web­bing strung be­tween two trees.

This is slack­lin­ing, a mov­ing med­i­ta­tion. It forces you to nar­row your fo­cus, and ev­ery­thing falls away as you try to main­tain bal­ance and move across the line. Re­cent stud­ies sug­gest that it can also im­prove core bal­ance, help pre­vent knee in­juries and aid in strength­en­ing and re­hab­bing legs.


We met in my old ’hood, Trin­ity Bell­woods Park, which is home to the only four pub­lic slack­line poles in Toronto.


I ini­tially wrote this off as a cir­cus dis­ci­pline, but with each at­tempt I was able to make more progress, and sud­denly I was hooked. The learn­ing curve was steep and there­fore ad­dic­tive.


My in­struc­tor was Adam El Sioufi and two of his fel­low Toronto Slack­line board mem­bers, Adam San­ders and Henry Galas.


Though it’s not a ne­ces­sity, El Sioufi rec­om­mended we start with some yoga in or­der to stretch to pre­vent in­jury and also to get out of our heads and into our bod­ies be­fore at­tempt­ing to do any slack­line bal­anc­ing.


There were three dif­fer­ent heights of lines set up. Since it was my first day, we stuck to the lower height at three inches off the ground. The line it­self was a two-inch-wide ratchet line. Dis­mount­ing or fall­ing is best learned on lower heights, since dis­mount­ing off higher lines re­sem­bles some­thing like ae­rial cartwheel­ing. With the first step, ev­ery­thing started to shake, and I fell off the line al­most im­me­di­ately. I felt com­pletely in­ept, and the shaky legs were un­ex­pected. This was chal­leng­ing on both men­tally and phys­i­cally.


A ba­sic slack­line starter kit runs about $80, and then all you need is a cou­ple of trees. Other types of lines are rodeo (high an­chors and no ten­sion), wa­ter­line (over wa­ter) and high­line or mid­line, where they are har­nessed in for safety.


This en­gages more mus­cles groups than you might ac­tu­ally re­al­ize. The arms and shoul­ders get lots of ac­tion since they’re your bal­anc­ing ap­pa­ra­tus. The quads are also al­ways en­gaged as you don’t want to lock your knees.


Friends have left a slack­line at our cot­tage, so I’ll be a slack­lin­ing ninja soon! Toronto Slack­line meets Wed­nes­days at Christie Pits in spring and sum­mer, at Trin­ity Bell­woods Park in fall, and at the Mon­key Vault in win­ter.

Monika finds her bal­ance on a slack­line

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